1) Strength Training
If you read my last article here you know that the 2 most important factors in increasing speed are increasing stride length and stride frequency; and that the number one way to increase those factors is by increasing force production. The way we increase force production is by strength training. Youth athletes are growing at a pretty fast rate and they are trying to figure out how to control their bodies, which tends to leave them pretty weak. Most of the athletes I see need some form of strength training because they spend all their time playing their sport, but not learning how to apply more force to the ground in order to move faster. You can get this effect by sprinting more, but that can be overly taxing on the body when combined with sports practice. Adding strength training is the fast track to getting that athlete to apply more force and become faster.
2) Sled Work
A lot of the young athletes I have worked with over the last few years tend to have one thing in common, they lack starting speed. Those first few steps can be crucial in getting to the ball faster or getting to the other end of the court first. Sometimes it is as simple as the starting position needing some coaching, but most young athletes just don’t understand how to generate speed off of starts. This comes down the strength and timing, and pulling a sled will train just that. When athletes pull a sled it teaches them to have the right amount of torso lean into the start of the sprint and to generate a lot of power off those first few steps. The classic misconception is that you have to move your legs really fast off the start, this is wrong because the beginning of your sprint is when you need the most power and force driving your forward, so those steps will look slower but create a faster athlete in the long run.
3) Hip Stability
Hip stability is a big concern with most people in the world we live in today. We spend a lot of time seated and that teaches our bodies that we really don’t need the kind of hip stability that is required to perform well in sport and reduce the risk of injury. Not only will better hip stability decrease injury risk, but it will also facilitate better use of that powerhouse muscle, the glutes. Athletes that don’t have adequate hip stability will leak energy laterally, when what you want is all that energy and force production used to propel the athlete forward. Here are a few exercises you can apply right now that will help develop hip stability; all you need is a mini resistance band. Do these everyday before strength training, sprint training or sports practice to get the best training effect. Conduct 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Use these tips and exercises to make you athlete faster, stronger and more explosive.
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